In 1658, just six years after Jan van Riebeeck established a refreshment station at the Cape of Good Hope, Pieter Visagie, a sailor from Antwerp, is said to have successfully brewed South Africa’s first clear beer. As the Cape's population increased, the demand for beer for local consumption grew, and in 1696 South Africa’s first brewery was established in Newlands, near natural springs that were determined to have “the finest and best water”. Over the next 200 years, Newlands became the centre of brewing activity in South Africa and, today, SAB’s Newlands Brewery still uses these pure waters to brew beer.
In 1889, Ohlsson’s Cape Breweries Limited was established by Anders Ohlsson with the backing of English capital. Ohlsson’s quickly acquired and modernised many of the Cape’s older breweries, consolidating the traditions of the industry that had started in Newlands.
Three years later, in September 1892, Ohlsson’s won two awards at the South African and International Exhibition, which was held in the diamond-mining city of Kimberley. Organised to showcase South African and foreign products, and to stimulate overseas trade and investment, the three-month event attracted almost 400 000 visitors and placed Kimberley – and Ohlsson’s – on the map. Ohlsson’s won a gold medal for beer and a silver for stout.